The Federal Government’s advocacy on the use of contraceptive among sexually active women in Nigeria for the prevention of unwanted pregnancy and abortion is beginning to yield positive results as more women are recorded to be embracing the method.
Compiled data from the 2015 report of the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, on health shows that contraceptive use among sexually active women of child bearing age increased by seven per cent compared to 2014.
In 2014, 23 per cent of sexually active Nigerian women used contraceptives, while 30 per cent used in 2015, the Bureau’s latest data showed.
Contraceptive are methods, devices or drugs used among sexually active people to reduce or prevent unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion.
A cross section of women interviewed in Abuja on family planning methods showed that most women engaged in one form of contraceptive method, either modern or traditional, to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Aisha Jamiu, a plantain trader, said what she used to do to prevent pregnancy was count the days of her safe period with her husband and abstain from sex when she is not safe.
This is one of the traditional forms of contraceptive method to prevent pregnancy. The NBS data also showed a 2 per cent increase in use of traditional contraceptive methods between 2014 and 2015.
However, Ms. Jamiu started taking contraceptive pills about six months ago as an alternate method.
“I still count my safe period and I am on a family planning pill that I take every day. Why I decided to start taking pill was because my menstrual dates started fluctuating after my last child who is now 2 years old and this is making it difficult to count my date as it has become unreliable.
“It was my friend that advised me that it is better to get an alternative method in other not to get pregnant and to be able to satisfy my husband because I can’t be giving him excuses every time”, she said.
The final health report for the NBS from the National Nutrition and Health Survey for 2015 showed that there is an increase in the use of modern health contraceptive method as compared to the traditional method of preventing unwanted pregnancy and abortions. Twice more Nigerian women used the modern methods like pills and injections than those who used the traditional methods such as withdrawal and menstrual date count.
Most women interviewed by PREMIUM TIMES had knowledge of family planning methods and control although some did not subscribe to its use.
Janet Asumu, a junior civil servant, said she and her husband had always relied on the traditional method of withdrawal, menstrual date counting and local herbs to prevent pregnancy because of the negative opinion of people on the use of modern contraceptive methods.
“I started using modern contraceptive after I accidentally conceived my last child eight months ago. I now have five children. It was during the antenatal that the nurses clarified some of the negative thoughts I had.
“Currently, I am on the three-month injection method. It’s not that the traditional method is not good, but you may miscalculate and become pregnant when you least expect,” she said
Contraceptive prevents loss of live
Researches placed the fertility rate in Nigeria at 5.7 children per woman, while sexual and reproductive behaviour of Nigerians show that majority of men and women practice sex before marriage. This has necessitated the government to encourage the use of contraceptives among all sexually active age groups.
According to the Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey, 2013, about 23 per cent of teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are either pregnant with their first child or are already mothers, while half of the women between the ages of 25 to 49 years married between 18 to 20 years; thus the need for birth control pills or contraceptive technique to reduce unintended pregnancies, and encourage child birth spacing.
Anu Rotimi, the Programme Coordinator of Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health, told the media that increased access to family planning can prevent about 1.6 million unintended pregnancies yearly in the country.
Ms. Rotimi said family planning can help save lives of women and children by reducing unplanned pregnancies and promoting healthy child spacing.
“Evidence has shown that the high death rate is mostly due to high unintended pregnancies and low use of family planning services. Increase uptake of family planning can avert up to 33 per cent of maternal deaths and 23 per cent of child deaths”, she said.
Failed contraceptive methods
However, some Nigerians complained that contraceptive usage does not necessarily prevent pregnancy.
Recounting her experience, Lara Nwosu, a mother of three, said she got pregnant of her third child during the period she was on family planning.
Mrs. Nwosu said there is five years gap between her second and last child. “I didn’t plan on having the third child. In fact my and husband was contented with our two sons. I was not on any modern form of contraceptive for four years because I was not sure which one to use or was safe for me because of all the stories of accidental pregnancy and hormonal imbalance, adding of weight and loss of sexual appetite after the use of some contraceptives.
“I decided to choose an implant method after speaking with my gynaecologist on which would be best for me and it was while I was on this that I got pregnant and I can’t give a reasonable explanation for that. My opinion is it may work for some and may not work for others, that does not mean people should not know when to stop having children,” she said.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had in a media chat reacted to complaints over the high rate of contraceptive failure.
He said contraceptive failures rarely occur if used properly. Very rarely will an unwanted pregnancy come from contraceptive-failure; it comes from improper use of the user, he had said.
“There are different methods of using contraceptives: the use of hormone medications, intrauterine contraceptive devices, barrier contraception, periods of abstaining from sex, and sterilization. And let me also say clearly that there is one that is good for you. The truth of the matter is that, we need to examine you to make sure that your blood pressure is normal,” he said.0
A pastor with Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) who asked not to be named said he always preached that people should give birth to only the number of children they have the financial capacity to take care of.
“I believe in divine health so I can’t tell people to use any form of medicine because I do not believe in it. I don’t use drugs so I cannot preach it. However, we preach that you space children so that you will be able to properly take care of them”, he said.
“However, in a situation where the couple involved does not know what means to use for family planning, they may use contraceptives. But the church does not encourage promiscuity”, he said.